As stewards of our national heritage and of the good will of many in our communities it is right that churches should, where possible, draw income from their buildings.
In 2014 a survey by Church Urban Fund suggested that church based community activitues reached an astonishing 10 million peple each year. A National Churches trust survey in 2010 found that half of churches host community activities. Churches use their buildings extensively and it is right that we maximise our income from our assets and activities. Much is possible but be realistic about this income stream. Rental income and fundraising activities are not the silver bullet to slay our financial fears. They can be insecure income streams when, say, a long standing rental is cancelled and do beware of inadvertently creating a culture of fundraising rather than generosity. Suggestions for approaching earned income are in Chapter Four of Beyond the Collection Plate.
Trading income is simply the catch-all term for money generated from church property and from church activities. Make the most of the tangible assets you have: the church building, maybe a church hall and its rental possibilities, a car park or possibly residential property and the various activities that you or third parties host.
Make sure you charge realistic rents. Don't be a soft touch and indeed charites have an obligation under law to maximise income. Now affordable rents are one way in which we can serve our communities and we are allowed to charge reduced rents to some organisations if their use of our assets is consistent with the charitable purpose of the church. So rental charges for church groups and charities which share our aims can be lower than rentals for external groups which charge for services or offer a tanglible benefit to their members. And while you are at it, get the paperwork right upstream and avoid problems downstream. Formal lettings which guarantee exclusive use will need a formal written agreement.
Churches are past masters at fundraising events of all kinds and fundraising is a valuable source of income. However, such events take up both time and energy so it always helps to set a realistic fundraising total for the year rather than simply moving from one event to the next. You can always make use of online giving platforms
for those sponsored events and use social media to promote and celebrate what you are doing. And, as noted above, do beware of creating a culture in which fundraising is our default response because it can be corrosive of growing a communit of generous givers